I went to the birthday party of my 80 year old grandmother today. What an honor. And to think that I was thinking about not going! What was I thinking?
During the short celebration, I had a few moments of sad realization.
*That the greatest generation that ever lived is slowly passing away, and with them the past times of yester-year.
The short program was put together by my aunts and uncles. There was a live band, made up of great-grandchildren, grandchildren and children, playing the music of her era. Trumpets, saxophones, tubas, guitars and tambourines all sounded together to create beautiful rhythm that we could dance to. Unfortunatly, it was apparent that as we younger generation got up to dance, we really had no idea how to do the Two Step, Jitter Bug,Polka, Swing, Waltz or even the Bunny Hop for heaven’s sake!
Tears welled up under my smile as I watched a cousin carefully lead grandma to the dance floor (very carefully!…her poor joints are ridden with arthritis) and lead her for a few minutes of swaying to the beat. The table where she sat was surrounded by a few of her closest aged friends. I could not help but wonder what was going on in their wise old minds. Where they embarrassed for us? Were they disappointed? Saddened at the proof of such a great past-time slipping through all of our fingers? Did they think, I wonder, “Will the world ever really dance again?”
I hear them asking: Will the world ever work again, like we were taught? Will folks have the charactar that we did? The work ethic? The cordiality? The respect? The Patriotism? Have the fights we have fought for this younger generation been in vain? Who will this generation become?
You see, it is so much more than just dancing.
And I am part of that. I don’t know how to dance the Foxtrot. I am to blame just as much as the next fellow.
I was saddened at this. Things have definitely changed in the past 50 years. Where has it all gone? Now we sit around entertaining ourselves with our smart phones, our televisions, blogs (heaven forbid) and other life-easing technologies. We have grown fatter, lazier, entitled and uncultured in so many ways.
There are ways we can salvage this downward spiral. We can honor our grandparents and their memory. We can respect their way of life- our parents’ upbringing. We can want less and work harder. We can teach our children what it means to work by learning to work ourselves. We can turn off the T.V. We can make an actual phone call or house call. (When was the last time you knocked on someone’s door?) We can be gracious and un entitled. We can take responsibility. We can be grateful.
I am honored to know so many fine grandparents from the greatest generation. I truly believe that they are the greatest generation. I hope to teach my children about how life used to be. I hope to do this by living my life that way.
My daughter turned three the day of Grandma’s 80th birthday party. There is a 77 year gap between their fragile lives. I look at them and I think just how impressionable we all are. A lifetime exists in that gap, and it is up to me to be sure that lifetime is well lived, cultivated and taught all of those things which I value. All of those things that seem to be dying off one by one.
There is greatness in the evolution of our world and culture. As a people, change is the only constant thing. I know things cannot be as they were 50 years ago and earlier. And in a lot of ways, things are better. I hope to see change come while still being true to the things of yester year that worked.
I guess the trick is to just keep dancing, even if you are unsure if you are doing it right. I’ll dance with my daughter, and I suppose it doesn’t matter if it is the same way my grandparents did it. The important thing is that I am dancing.